The Q&A Archives: Seeking three patio trees for west-facing lake erie region patio

Question: Hi there,
We are looking to infill our front west-facing patio in the Buffalo/lake Erie region of New York state which receives extremely harsh weather from october through april. This winter was very hard on our clump birch in front of our patio and we are hoping to infill with two to three vine-maple types which allow for a bit of patio shade with some views out and through to the lake, below.

Could you give us some suggestions on wind/snow/ice storm tollerant species that would age well in our region? We do want to buy from Monrovia.~

Thank you kindly,
Heather Olson

Answer: A harsh, exposed and windy location is generally difficult to plant. Depending on the desired size of the tree at maturity and the space available for their roots as well, you might look at crab apple trees. They are available in many overall shapes and sizes to suit different locations and there are newer disease resistant types; some of them do not drop their fruit and thus avoid making a mess on the patio. The flowers are lovely along a patio, too. Apple is a hard wooded tree and takes pruning fairly well should there ever be storm damage requiring restorative pruning. You could also look at oaks, which easily can be limbed up to allow for a view (some in fact are self pruning as they shade themselves at the base), however these are slower growing and mature to very large sizes and also drop their acorns on the patio. Another option would be to use something fast growing like the birches but plan on replanting periodically as needed to replace damaged ones. Yet another possibility would be to try to establish a wind break to protect your planting somewhat, although this would not prevent ice storm damage. Severe ice storms can damage nearly every tree in one quick heartbreaking episode so there is really nothing to suggest as far as that goes although harder wooded trees such as some of the maples, apples and oaks can tolerate more ice than softer wooded trees can. Your local county extension and professionally trained nurseryman may have other suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the planting area and your design goals. Good luck with your project.

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